Don't Kiss Santa, He Might Have H1N1

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

Santa Claus

Santa could spread more than good will and cheer during the holiday season. Credit: Matti Mattila, Flickr

Swine flu is definitely not on Santa's Christmas list this year, and actors who play the jolly old elf in malls across the country are asking for priority when it comes to getting the H1N1 vaccination.

The Boston Herald reports that Ernest Berger of the group Santa America is pushing heath authorities to give Santas first dibs on the sought-after and rationed vaccination not only because they are exposed to a large group of children, but also because research suggests that obesity is a risk factor for swine flu. Berger asserts that many of the men who play St. Nick are at least 100 pounds overweight.Others warn that Santa has the potential to spread more than just good will and happiness this holiday season. Unlike day-care operators or school teachers, mall Santas see lots of different kids, thereby increasing the risk of spreading germs to many children and their families -- and no one wants swine flu for Christmas.

Even during years when the flu risk is low or normal, sick kids are an occupational hazard of those donning the red suit, Ric Erwin, secretary of the Fraternal Order of Real-Bearded Santas, tells the Herald. He says that white-bearded men who make their lists and check it twice should "probably get [the vaccine] before the general public."

Health officials urge parents to keep their kids home if they have H1N1. Instead of visiting Santa, kids can send their requests to the North Pole via the United States Post Office.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.